Illinois Announces Plan for Child Care Recovery Funds
Oct 20, 2009
Across the country, states are determining the most effective policy changes to take advantage of federal funding for child care included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and support the needs of low-income working families in their communities.
Today, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced the state's plan to use $74 million in ARRA Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds to alleviate financial pressures on families most hurt by the economic recession. Illinois will use its ARRA funds to:
- Serve more families. Illinois currently serves all eligible families and will use ARRA funds to avoid opening a waiting list for assistance.
- Reduce parent copayments by 15 percent. As of February 2009, Illinois had its copayment set at 8 percent of family income, which is higher than the national average of 6 percent of family income.
- Extend job search eligibility for assistance from 30 to 90 days. This will allow families a longer time to look for work in a challenging economy and simultaneously promote consistent care for children.
- Create a statewide network of Infant/Toddler specialists. Specialists will provide support to providers caring for infants and toddlers to improve the quality of care.
Several states have not yet drawn down ARRA funds. While ARRA funds are meant to be spent quickly to serve more families and improve the quality of care, states are appropriately considering what policy changes may be most effective to help families and make systematic improvements in their child care programs. The Child Care Bureau has issued guidance restating the areas of flexibility states have in CCDBG. CLASP and the National Women's Law Center also wrote a joint report recommending key policy changes for states with ARRA funds. As states continue moving forward with their plans, we expect to see an increase in ARRA drawdowns.